Put Wine in Its Place

A good bottle of wine deserves to be well-kept
  • by RaeAnne Marsh
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The muted glimmer of light, reflected in orderly rows; the bottles themselves — perfectly smooth, sensuous shapes — offering the promise of good times: Wine cellars are the very essence of romance.

However, developing that wine cellar aura requires more than just lining a room with shelves and laying in the bottles.

Whether the wine cellar is for storage only or will also be an entertainment area (albeit at a chilly less-than-70-degrees), certain elements are common to both. A slate floor is de rigueur, for the look as well as its property of insulation. Stone walls, or heavily textured walls that look like stone, combine with the floor to give the sense of being underground that is so much a part of the traditional wine cellar ambiance. Amenities will include a decanting area, incorporated into the design of shelving and racks.

Racks will likely be the largest part of the storage plan. Storing bottles of wine individually, on rails rather than shelves, is the preferred method since the chilled air can circulate evenly around the bottle. However, not all bottles are the same size, and other storage spaces are needed. Cubes and bins, in which several bottles can be laid together, can accommodate sizes such as 1.5 liter, magnum and jeroboam (3 liter). Adjustable shelves will hold wooden cases of wine as well as the glassware that you will want to keep on hand nicely chilled. Redwood is favored because of both its aesthetic beauty and the fact that it doesn’t warp or mildew.

A tasting table large enough to also put out a plate of cheese or other go-withs, either built into the cabinets or free-standing, is usually included even in wine cellars intended to be first and foremost for wine storage. However, actually dining in the room may not be a good idea, as strong smells can seep through the cork into the wine. This is also the reason the racks should not be treated with any oil-based stain.

Wine, in fact, is sensitive to a number of influences. In addition to odor, these include vibration, light and temperature variance. Good lighting for the wine cellar, then, is rope lighting and dimly lit chandeliers. Canned lighting may allow some seepage of air, which could affect the temperature of the room, and if there are windows, it’s best to have the glass tinted.

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